TELANDER: It should be Cubs first, Wrigley second
January 21, 2013 10:52PM
Tom Ricketts should be more concerned with winning a World Series than Wrigley renovations. | Sun-Times
There’s a place within the vast Bohemian National Cemetery on Chicago’s Northwest Side called ‘‘Beyond the Vines.’’
It’s a scaled-down replica of Wrigley Field’s red-brick outfield wall, with vines and the bright yellow ‘‘400’’ emblazoned in, what I guess you would call, ‘‘dead center.’’
People are buried within the wall. Their ashes, anyway. And those folks all have one thing in common, besides being deceased. They were Cubs fans who couldn’t hold out for a World Series championship. One hundred four years is too long for almost any mortal.
On a beautiful, warm spring day last year, I sat with fellow Sun-Times columnist Rick Morrissey in the authentic Wrigley Field seats in front of the wall and pondered many things.
Like, would I mind being in this thing? And, what would my slogan be?
One engraving says, ‘‘I Saw Ruth and Gehrig Play at Wrigley.’’ Another says, ‘‘Please Tap Here After They Win.’’ Resident Anna M. Romero’s says, ‘‘Wait Till Next Year!’’
Oh, Anna — wasn’t that the problem in the first place?
Mine, I figure, would say, ‘‘I quit.’’
But let me leave that breezy, melancholy day and fast-forward to now. (Morrissey may be back there yet, though I think he was channeling the White Sox.)
What we have now is the Cubs-owning Ricketts family, spoken for in part by holdover Tribune employee and now-president Crane Kenney, stating that it is ready to upgrade Wrigley Field. The Rickettses will make it habitable and fresh, over the course of five years of construction, for something like $300 million. Or so.
All they want from the city is for restrictions to be lifted.
This upgrading, the owners insist, is necessary so the team can stay profitable and modern and have increased revenues to build . . . OK, I’m going to pause here and drift like a mote back to that halcyon cemetery and its sunny rumination — a WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM!
The rebuilt park equals success. It’s that simple. Bigger urinals, bigger trophies.
Just throw us a bone here, the Cubs say.
A Jumbotron, fine. Elevators, batting cages, locker rooms fit for humans — check. A few more night games, OK. Closed fairground arcades on Sheffield on game days. Cool. As long as the neighbors and alderman Tom Tunney agree.
Hell, I’m in favor of the Cubs buying up all the buildings that surround Wrigley, including the apartments, rooftops, McDonald’s, Cubby Bear, Murphy’s Bleachers, every last bit of it, and turning the whole North Side block into Six Flags Over Wrigleyville.
I believe I have said this before.
Just as when it comes to the Cubs we’ve said it all before. I would even be in favor of bringing back Sammy Sosa, if for nothing more than to tap his chest a couple of times and holler, ‘‘Flintstones!’’
But in 2011, Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the bond/tax borrowing scheme the Rickettses had dreamed up ‘‘a non-starter.’’ At the very least, the Rickettses’ request was utterly tone deaf. Two years ago, the Chicago economy was flat busted. It still isn’t healthy.
But the Rickettses have done some penance for that proposal and for patriarch Joe Ricketts’ proposed $10 million Super PAC ad blitz that would’ve blasted President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.
Lord, don’t these folks know Emanuel was formerly Obama’s chief of staff?
Maybe the Rickettses are learning. The Wrigley renovations would be nice, the jobs created very nice. But this is a private building, a private franchise.
As Emanuel said in the spring of 2011, ‘‘Their job is as owners of the team. My job is representing the taxpayers.’’
Actually, their job is to win a World Series before we all drift beyond the vines.